Highs and lows

The end of the breeding season can have stutters. It may seem the ospreys have migrated, but then one returns – like YA after a 10 day absence.

YA looks towards Kielder Water
(c) Forestry Commission England

The end is in stark contrast to the beginning of the season when, suddenly, an empty nest shakes slightly as an osprey lands. And it is one of the breeding pair.  Relief is mixed with excitement – we’re off on the roller coaster ride that occurs most breeding seasons!

Kielder has been very fortunate this year. Some UK sites have experienced no breeding success, others have been less productive than most years. All of our established nests had at least one fledgling. However 2 eggs didn’t hatch and 2 chicks died when young, so the joy of seeing successful fledges and healthy juveniles heading off on migration was tempered by those disappointments.

There is a new natural nest in the forest, a great thrill, although Nest 5 was not productive. This is the first time an egg or eggs have been laid on a nest in Kielder Forest and there hasn’t been at least one fledging. But the pair appear to have a strong bond, so we hope they raise offspring in 2019. Other ospreys have been present during the season, and signs for the future are promising.

Despite some relative lows, there have been many highs in the season. Having the privilege of watching the chicks being ringed is definitely an experience that is never forgotten. Ellie, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s seasonal Osprey Assistant, was present at a couple of the nests. Osprey Watch wouldn’t be feasible without volunteers giving their time to talk to the public. Courtesy Forestry Commission England, several NWT volunteers including Les attended ringings. Here are a few ringing day photos from Ellie and Les, which bring back very happy memories. Our thanks to them for sharing.

YA watches his chicks being ringed
(c) Ellie Kent

Binky keeps a beady eye on proceedings
(c) Ellie Kent

Broomlee bites!
(c) Ellie Kent

EB about to land on the old Nest 2 tree
(c) Ellie Kent

Bywell stands above Blackaburn
(c) Les Johnson

the light catches Bywell’s beautiful amber eye
(c) Les Johnson

Ellie will shortly be moving to pastures new. She is completing a spreadsheet of Kielder Osprey data, which will be a lasting legacy of her work here and will be on the site soon. We wish her well in the future, and will miss her sunny personality – which she maintained even when it rained, something she didn’t experience for several weeks!

Posted in Nest 1A, Nest 2, Nest 3, Nest 4, Nest 5, Osprey watch, UK | Tagged | 8 Comments

A Kielder osprey – and other birds

Regular readers will recall that Nest 1A‘s YA turned up on 15 September, complete with a fresh rainbow trout. He hadn’t been seen by any nestcams since 5 September, so was possibly away from the area. He was on his nest until 18.35 so it was unlikely that he would begin his migration until 16 September at earliest.

YA dozes whilst keeping a grip on his meal
(c) Forestry Commission England

On 16 September, YA spent a few minutes on the nest until required to chase off some ravens, then returned to preen for 30 minutes.

YA about to leave the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

He was back again on 17 September for just over 20 minutes.

landing for a short preening session
(c) Forestry Commission England

away for the last time in 2018
(c) Forestry Commission England

It is probably safe to say YA is now en route to his wintering grounds – or possibly in them, if he doesn’t go as far as West Africa.

The shape of Nests 1A and  2 were altered during the strong winds of Storm Ali. In this clip, the front of Nest 1A disappears. Press HD for best quality.

Nest 2 experienced a sudden increase in sticks on the nest, as the left hand side blew onto the top, creating a dome.

a rather scruffy nest before Storm Ali
(c) Forestry Commission England

A kestrel visits the nest. It had a surprise when flying up to land post Storm Ali.

not how it looked the previous visit
(c) Forestry Commission England

Although it can only be viewed from below, Nest 5, the natural nest, looks as though it survived the storm without damage – a tribute to the nest building skills of the inexperienced ospreys CN2 and FF1.

Nest 4, also undamaged in the storms, has the most kestrel visits.

a kestrel with prey
(c) Forestry Commission England

Ravens and carrion crows are also often seen on the streamed nests.

one raven calls as the other eats
(c) Forestry Commission England

A female Great Spotted Woodpecker tested out the Nest 1A pole.

admiring the view from Nest 1A
(c) Forestry Commission England

There’ll be another couple of posts in the next week or so. That’s presuming YA doesn’t land on his nest tomorrow!

Posted in Nest 1A, Nest 2, Nest 4, Nest 5, Osprey updates, UK | Tagged | 3 Comments

About Nest 5

We’ve mentioned the new natural nest – Nest 5 – a couple of times in posts. Here’s more detail.

The nest site is in an area of windblow – trees uprooted by the prevailing winds. When a block of timber is felled, trees at the edge of an adjacent block become exposed to the weather, and there will often be fallen trees within a few months. Many end up at angles to the ground because as they topple they hit others that remain upright.

The birds have built a nest in a fork at the top of a tree which is still standing straight. They have done a very good job.

the pair in the nest watching an intruder
(c) Forestry Commission England

Overall, the nest isn’t quite as deep as it appears from that angle, which is looking towards a fork that the pair infilled with sticks.

Both ospreys are Scottish. The male is Blue CN2, who has intruded regularly at Kielder nests since 2016, when he was 3 years old. He hatched near Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway.

Blue CN2 perched near his nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

CN2 bringing sticks to the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

The female is a year younger. Blue FF1 was also 3 years old when first seen on a Kielder nest camera in 2017. She is from a nest in central Perthshire.

FF1’s ring is partially visible
(c) Forestry Commission England

FF1 looks towards her nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

FF1 overwinters at Somone Lagoon in Senegal, which is  also EB’s winter home.

FF1 in January 2016 at Somone Lagoon
(c) Chris Wood

Hindsight is a wonderful attribute, and it is now clear that the pair bonded last year. Late in the season they were intruding at similar times.

During monitoring, only 1 chick was seen peeping over the nest edge. It isn’t known why it died. But, encouragingly, the adults held their territory and were both on the nest in the week beginning 20 August.

FF1 on 20 August
(c) Forestry Commission England

CN2 intruded on Nests 2 and 4 in early September, and was on Nest 4 as late in the season as 13 September.

CN2 just after landing on Nest 2
(c) Forestry Commission England

CN2 rearranges Nest 4
(c) Forestry Commission England

It is a great thrill in our 10th year of breeding to host a new pair in Kielder Forest, despite no fledglings for them this year. Safe migrations to both birds, and we look forward to welcoming them back in 2019.

Posted in Nest 5, Osprey updates, UK | Tagged | 13 Comments

Look who is back!

The nestcams are still recording, but lately corvids and kestrels have been the main visitors. There was a surprise this afternoon.

just after landing
(c) Forestry Commission England

YA was mantling as he landed – possibly at corvids – but he soon began to eat. And eat!

building up his reserves
(c) Forestry Commission England

He is still standing with the fish as this is typed, 16.20.

YA was last on camera when streaming stopped on 5 September. He is usually only around for 1 or 2 days after his last offspring has migrated. If he doesn’t leave tomorrow or early on Monday, he is likely to be trapped by Storm Helene for another couple of days.

Posted in Nest 1A, Osprey updates, UK | Tagged | 3 Comments

Going, going… are all the ospreys gone?

Nest 2’s Bamburgh was last seen on 11 September, when she received 2 trout from 37 during streaming hours.  Bamburgh hadn’t quite finished fish 1 before 37 arrived with another.

a new fish before the 1st one was polished off
(c) Forestry Commission England

She managed to eat part of fish 2 before 37 came to help out.

37 eats from Bamburgh’s discard
(c) Forestry Commission England

37 consumed very little, and Bamburgh tucked in again. She was then on and off the nest a few times, but has not been seen since late afternoon on 11 September.

Bamburgh just before flying
(c) Forestry Commission England

Yesterday, 37 landed with a part eaten fish and stayed – just looking about – for over 30 minutes. Circumstantial evidence that Bamburgh was no longer around!

a last look around by 37 before flying
(c) Forestry Commission England

There are frequent spells of rain today, but 37 has probably begun his migration.

Meanwhile, over on Nest 4, the kestrel has enjoyed a couple of meals on the nest.

probably a vole for starters…
(c) Forestry Commission England

That one took 4 minutes to consume, and it wasn’t long until the next course was caught.

… and for a top up
(c) Forestry Commission England

It’s good to see something when reviewing the footage!

Posted in Nest 2, Nest 4, Osprey updates, UK | Tagged | 7 Comments

Osprey update – and some different species

Bamburgh is still at Nest 2, with her 2nd fish of the day. She still had a remnant of the first offering from 37 when he brought the 2nd. This is Bamburgh about an hour before fish 2 arrived.

Bamburgh dozes over the 10.00 remnant
(c) Forestry Commission England

Much of the food is consumed away from the nest, and occasionally other birds land when the nest is empty.

a Kestrel perches on the edge of Nest 2
(c) Forestry Commission England

Coincidentally, a Kestrel had an energetic time on Nest 4 this morning. Press HD for best quality.

Corvids are the most common post-osprey birds on the nests. Ravens have landed on Nests 1A, 3 and 4. A handsome pair graced Nest 4 briefly, a couple of days after the ospreys had departed.

a pair of ravens, safe from eviction
(c) Forestry Commission England

Finally, it can be confirmed that Blackaburn from Nest 3 was not in footage after 3 September. Details of her (and her father’s) ‘last seen’ date have been added to the Timeline.

a raven, the only bird captured on Nest 3 footage since 3 Sept
(c) Forestry Commission England

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100 days and counting…

Bamburgh hatched 100 days ago today. She is still with us – her 2016 sister Y6 left 105 days after hatching, so the Nest 2 record isn’t at risk just yet.

Even if Bamburgh had felt the urge to migrate over the last 3 days, the predominantly wet weather during that time would have been no encouragement.

After a few days of 1-2 fish being supplied during streaming hours, on Friday 37 provided 3, and yesterday 4 arrived during 11 hours.

a new fish, with a small remnant and a large portion already on the nest
(c) Forestry Commission England

37 is certainly making sure Bamburgh has plenty of reserves for her migration. Bamburgh put the fresh fish below the front left rim and returned to her existing 2 courses.

Bamburgh has a fish under each foot
(c) Forestry Commission England

There was a change in Bamburgh’s behaviour this morning. She usually takes a fish from 37 as he touches down on the nest, but today she stood watching him take a few bites, then he had a few words with her. Press HD for best quality.

Bamburgh had arrived after 37, and cleaned her beak after landing – she had probably been eating on the old nest tree. But having just fed hasn’t stopped her taking possession of a future meal before.

Tomorrow morning should see several rain free hours, although the winds will be gusty and WSW. Will she, won’t she… Watch this space!


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Brief Nest 2 update

Bamburgh is still at Nest 2, with 37 supplying plenty of food.

supper delivered, 37 is about to fly
(c) Forestry Commission England

It was a wet start today, but Bamburgh sat preening on the nest edge at times – in between showers.

getting her feathers in tip top condition
(c) Forestry Commission England

37 delivered 2 fish within 3 hours in the early afternoon. If Bamburgh decides to leave tomorrow, she should be well fuelled.

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Bamburgh is still at Nest 2, Blackaburn has probably left Nest 3

Yesterday’s post commented that Bamburgh may not have migrated, given her long absences from Nest 2. That has proved true, with a few brief landings this morning, and early evening presence eating a fish.

1st view of Bamburgh on the nestcam today
(c) Forestry Commission England

Bamburgh flies after a 2 minute visit
(c) Forestry Commission England

No ospreys have been seen on Nests 1A and 4, so Byrness, Binky and Beldon have been added to the Timeline as last seen on 3 September.

Nest 3 recordings for the last few days suggest Blackaburn migrated on 4 September, as she was last seen on the evening of 3 September. She was holding on to a headless trout earlier in the day.

brunch for Blackaburn
(c) Forestry Commission England

She received another fish soon after 18.00.

the last delivery seen by the male
(c) Forestry Commission England

Blackaburn was tucking in on the last clip we have of her.

last supper at Kielder?
(c) Forestry Commission England

The limited recordings at Nest 3 may have missed later presence, so we won’t update the Timeline for Blackaburn until the next visit.

Posted in Nest 1A, Nest 2, Nest 3, Nest 4, Osprey updates, UK, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Departures update

It was unlikely any of the Kielder youngsters would begin their migration yesterday. Despite light tailwinds, it was a wet day with poor visibility for the most part. There were no fish deliveries between 08.00 and around 18.00 on the nests with singletons – Nests 2 and 4.

Beldon’s soliciting is rewarded. Eventually
(c) Forestry Commission England

Nest 4‘s Beldon was still eating at 19.00 when streaming ended, but he hasn’t been on camera today so far (16.30). He is usually on the nest or perch now and then – just in case a fish might arrive.

On Nest 2, 37 delivered a flounder as a special treat for Bamburgh today. She didn’t look impressed!

37 brings his 2nd recorded flatfish of the season
(c) Forestry Commission England

I prefer trout, Dad!
(c) Forestry Commission England

Bamburgh hasn’t been seen since flying off with the remains of the fish, after eating for over 30 minutes. But long absences on Nest 2 aren’t unusual, so she may still be around.

On Nest 1A, YA provided 2 trout yesterday – one for each of his remaining offspring. Today, both juveniles were still at the nest when he delivered quite a small trout, which Binky claimed.

Binky gets there first, as usual – Byrness is dropping from the camera too late
(c) Forestry Commission England

Binky had eaten the fish 21 minutes later. She left the nest, but returned to the perch for a few minutes mid morning. This was the last capture of Binky today so far.

Binky leaves the perch…. for the last time?
(c) Forestry Commission England

Byrness had flown from the nest a little earlier, and had not returned by 16.30.

Byrness just before flying
(c) Forestry Commission England

Even in poor weather, normally one of the duo will check out the nest for a few minutes every so often. But more suggestive of probable migration is YA’s presence this afternoon for over 3 hours – with a temptingly large trout.

two hours plus and no takers. Is nobody hungry?
(c) Forestry Commission England

We won’t amend the Timeline until reviewing the rest of today’s footage and the first part of tomorrow’s. But 3 of the 4 remaining youngsters on the streamed nests may well have begun their first Autumn migration today. We so hope it will be the first migration of many, although we know the challeges juveniles have to overcome.

Posted in Nest 1A, Nest 2, Nest 4 | Tagged | 5 Comments